The new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research

15th December 2023

With the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) entering its establishment period before becoming fully operational in April 2024, we take a look at its key features and what the education sector can expect.

The implementation of the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act 2022 (TERA) is designed to change the way the post-16 education and training sector is funded and regulated in Wales, through the creation of the CTER whose responsibilities will cover: higher education; further education; local authority maintained school sixth forms; apprenticeships; adult community learning; and research and innovation.

The CTER was established in September 2023, and is currently in its ‘establishment period’ until it becomes fully operational in April 2023 The Commission will have a board and a Chief Executive, with the aim for its associate members to represent learners and tertiary education practitioners.

During the establishment period, the CTER will have the ability to exercise functions relating to the transition of governance and oversight of Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), which will eventually dissolve. However, it is important to note that HEFCW will continue to retain responsibility for funding and regulating higher education teaching, research and innovation, with the Welsh Government retaining responsibility for further education and sixth forms, apprenticeships, and adult learning until CTER fully comes into force.

CTER will support Welsh Government priorities for post-16 education, with the overall outcome seeking to shape a new structure and system to better support learners, with the knowledge and skills for lifelong learning, development, and success.

CTER’s strategic plan, following consultation with stakeholders, will set out how it will deliver on these priorities and discharge its strategic duties. The CTER is bound to take all reasonable steps to implement the strategic plan.

In its establishment period, the CTER will look to focus on the following innovations:

  1. Bringing post-16 education together – Wales will be the only UK nation to have sixth-forms, colleges, universities, apprenticeships, and adult education managed as a single system.
  2. A clear purpose for post-16 education – Sets out in law CTER’s values and ambitions for post-16 education in Wales.
  3. A commitment to lifelong learning – TERA creates a new duty to fund proper facilities for further education for adults.
  4. More Welsh medium education – TERA creates new duties to promote bilingual and Welsh-medium tertiary education provision.
  5. Making sure learners and students are heard – Registration and funding conditions for providers to ensure students’ interests are represented and their wellbeing promoted and protected.
  6. Welsh apprenticeships – New powers will enable Welsh apprenticeships to be aligned with the future needs of the Welsh economy.


To focus on the innovations, the CTER have already consulted on the list of Trade Unions and learner representative bodies who may nominate individuals for the purpose of appointing associate workforce members and associate learner members to the CTER.

Going forward, the CTER are proposing to consult on the following areas in the following periods:

  • Register of tertiary education providers: initial regulations (taking place between 31 October 2023 and 5 February 2024));
  • Amendment to the Digital Economy Act 2017 in respect of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (taking place between 2 October 2023 and 22 December 2023);
  • Technical amendments to The Inspection of Education and Training (Wales) Regulations 2001 (autumn/winter 2023);
  • Funding of further education and training regulations (early 2024)
  • Register of tertiary education providers: further regulations (spring/summer 2024)

The next seven months are crucial to CTER’s establishment, and the Senedd will continue to closely monitor and scrutinise the establishment of the CTER.

A full summary of the TERA can be found here.

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